Chengyu Tuesdays: Duck Romance


We're finishing up our run of chengyu with a few idioms for lovers, and then back to something completely different next month. This one is for all the mandarin ducks.


• 一见钟情 yījiànzhōngqíng – Love at first sight. Also connected is 一见如故 yījiànrúgù for that feeling when you meet someone like you’re old friends

• 擦肩而过 cājiānérguò – To brush shoulders but pass each other by. For missed connections, or when you’ve known someone a long time before falling for them

• 爱屋及乌 àiwūjíwū – Love me, love my dog. Although technically replace “me” with “my house”, and “dog” with “the crow [living in the rafters]”

• 藕断丝连 ǒuduànsīlián – The lotus root breaks but the threads still connect. A rather poetic metaphor for remnant feelings from a past relationship

• 情人眼里出西施 qíngrényǎnlǐ chū Xīshī – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 西施 Xishi was a famous beauty in the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China

• 海枯石烂 hǎikūshílàn – Until the ends of the earth. The full version is 天荒地老, 海枯石烂 (tiānhuāng dìlǎo, hǎikū shílàn): “When heaven is desolate and the earth is old, when the sea dries up and the rocks crumble.” The 13th century poet 元好问 (Yuán Hàowèn) has this line in one of his poems

海枯石烂两鸳鸯,只合双飞便双死 (hǎikūshílàn liǎng yuānyang, zhǐhé shuāngfēi biàn shuāngsǐ)

Two birds at the end of the earth, as long as they’re not apart, flying together, dying together

鸳鸯 yuānyang (literally mandarin ducks) means an affectionate couple, and more romantically is also a name for the Sichuan-style split hotpot with spicy and mild water, shaped like a yin yang.